Colin O'Brady

Colin O’Brady Completes Historic Solo Trek Across Antarctica

Today, American polar adventurer Colin O’Brady, 33, completed a record-setting 921-mile unsupported solo journey across Antarctica. He became the first person to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported, and unaided by the wind.

O’Brady crossed Antarctica in 53 days. And in a mind-bending final push, he logged an ultramarathon without sleep, traveling more than 77 miles in 32 hours to the finish line.

In the unsupported style, O’Brady pulled a sled with all his supplies.

O’Brady pushed forward for nearly two months straight, reportedly taking just a single day off for a ski repair. British explorer Louis Rudd started the same day.

Solo, Unsupported, Unaided

The feat is historic. O’Brady’s transcontinental crossing with no outside aid makes him the first person to traverse Antarctica alone coast to coast, unsupported, and unaided by wind power.

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Day 47: THIS TOO SHALL PASS. After having my best day of the expedition yesterday, I nearly had my worst day today. I went to battle hard with my personal demons today. My anxiety started building last night after listening to a huge wind storm grow outside. The rattling of my tent kept me up and I began to get more and more nervous knowing I had to go out in it. I did my usual morning routine and then stepped into the madness. As expected, it was brutal. Blowing snow, sub zero temps and zero visibility. I packed off and headed out into the whiteout. I just entered a part of the route known as “Sastrugui National Park” aptly named for having the biggest sastrugui on the route. Pretty much the worse place to find yourself not being able to see where you are going. Due to the massive sastrugi, it’s also the one stretch where no plane can land so you are in dire straights if an emergency occurs. That really started playing on my mind after I fell hard 5 times in the first hour. What if I broke a bone or a ski? Maybe I should stop? I bargained with myself and finally decided I had to set my tent back up, less than two hours into the day. I told myself in my tent if I wanted to keep going that I could put on my long skins for better grip on the uneven surface and then continue. But I knew the effort it would take to put up the tent in a storm, it’s unlikely I was going any further. I fought to get the tent up, got inside with my skis, skins and stove, and put on my long skins. It was now decision time. Go back out? The voice in my head told me to stop, wait out the storm, rest. But the other voice told me I needed to keep moving forward or I’ll run out of food. My mind was ripping me apart. I closed my eyes and decided to meditate for a couple minutes repeating my favorite mantra: “This too shall pass.” One way or another I’d find my way out of this. Calmed and with renewed resolve I got back outside, fought to get my tent down and packed and continued onward. The storm outside never got any better, in fact it got progressively worse. However I managed to calm the storm in my mind and knock out 21.5 miles today. A great day all things considered.

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However, some Arctic explorers have disputed this fact due to O’Brady’s rerouting at the beginning of his trip.

Antarctic solo crossing
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According to famed polar explorer Eric Larsen, who started his own attempt a few weeks after O’Brady, the conditions this season were some of the worst he’s ever seen in Antarctica. Larsen pulled out of his attempt last week.

Congratulations to O’Brady on an insanely difficult undertaking and capturing a long-coveted first in the world of exploration.

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Associate editor Julie Kailus has spent a career covering people, places, and products in the outdoor industry. Julie can be found testing the latest and greatest in her favorite activities — trail running, mountain biking, swimming, snowboarding, and the underrated endurance sport of chasing two sons around the mountains.